(extract from speech delivered by Resident Representative, Mr. Maxwell Gomera)

 

Isaac Newton once said everything that he achieved was the result of standing on the shoulders of giants. I could not put it better.

Every year is different but this one has been filled with unprecedented challenges. 2020 goes down in history as the year that put our resilience and humanity to the test.

We have all experienced some hard knocks, lost friends and lost loved ones. We have not been spared the ravages of Covid 19 – as a business, as individuals and as a family.

But through it all, we have also scored some terrific victories that allow us to look to 2021 with optimism.

· Going into 2021, we are in a strong financial position. Our partners have expressed their strong support and willingness to invest further in our work

· We have a strong team. We now stand at over 70, with a vacancy level of 5

· We have a strong program. We have worked tirelessly to be a partner of choice, and to bring our capacities to bear on advancing Rwanda’s development objectives.

Wherever you sit in the organisation, you are an integral part of our success. And we are therefore keen to hold on to you! As of January 2021, those whose contracts are due for renewal can be considered for two-year extensions, funds permitting.

Let me take this opportunity to thank you for your contributions in making UNDP a successful, terrific, and humane place to work. But do allow me to highlight amongst many, the areas where we excelled.

We advanced our support to the people and government of Rwanda. At the end of the day, this is what matters the most.

· We launched the Amayaga Green project, planting over 8 million trees.

· We helped young entrepreneurs’ businesses to recover from Covid-19 crisis;

· We launched Smart Anti-Epidemic Robots, to support the fight against Covid-19

· We carried out a socio-economic study that informed policy projections for Partners

· We worked with Government to develop a Green Growth Scorecard for Rwanda

· We worked with partners to develop a Governance Scorecard for Rwanda.

· We supported the development of a Criminal Justice Policy to improve access to justice

You worked hard to modernise our internal systems, strengthen human resources capacities, and enhance our operational capability…

Operation: we have managed to keep the finance dashboards green and disbursed payments, including salaries on time. There have not been any complaints about salary payments delays.

Procurement: we have provided timely services and processed contracts over 200M USD.

Information and Communication Technology: while there is room for improvement, we have supported staff and business continuity during the lockdown.

Human Resources: we implemented the 2030 people strategy agenda, and our efforts were commended by UNDP Administrator

Together, we advanced our project implementation and monitoring capability

The Management Support Unit supported us all in tracking project delivery, implementation, and resource mobilisation during this COVID-19 period

So, thank you for all the hard work you put in daily, and for caring.

It is in times like these when we earn our badge of honour as the last line of defence for those who are vulnerable.

You have stepped up to ensure access to finance by women-led businesses, people living with disability as well as by youth entrepreneurs.

You have worked above and beyond to give others ‘agency’ and voice. And this is our commitment to you: Your voice matters and should be heard. UNDP is a place where your opinion and your ideas count.

In 2021, we are going to invest in strengthening your ability to write, including opinion pieces and on storytelling. Because your work and your stories are extraordinary and must be heard.

Let me leave you with three insights I picked up this year that have enriched me as a person

FIRST is the importance of being creative and curious about the world around you.

Keep asking questions: of us, of yourself, of your work and the world around you.

It does not matter where you seat in the organisation, never lose the ability to be curious about your work and the world around you.

Ideas are the greatest ‘leveller’ in an increasingly unequal world – and the only piece of property that is truly and uniquely you.

SECOND is the importance of timely execution, of not procrastinating, of not leaving until tomorrow what can be done today.

Ten days ago, I was talking to my sister-in-law and making plans for Christmas.

We did not finish the conversation but agreed to pick up on it the following day.

I did not follow up immediately.

Two days later, at about 08:30 my daughter called to inform me that my sister-in-law had died in her sleep.

I will never have the chance to discuss Christmas with her – or to tell her how much I love her.

So, colleagues do not leave until tomorrow what you can do today.

Last is the importance of sharing our humanity.

We truly find humanity in surprising places.

Two months ago, I was at my lowest point. I lost a son; I was moving away from my family; I was anxious about the country and the job I was stepping into.

But, in you I found friendship and family. And that has helped me to settle and focus on the job. I have had the pleasure of learning from you in the past few weeks – and to interact with all levels of staff.

Godelieve Mukayiranga, regularly shares uplifting reflections with me as she drives me around – helping to start our day on a high note. To my delight, her thoughtfulness is shared across the organisation.

I have been introduced to many wonderful aspects of Rwanda culture and society. I have been invited into your homes where I have tasted Rwandan food, and even tasted the local brew ‘Urwagwa.’

Through you, I want to thank your families, the people who support you everyday and are our biggest cheerleaders. They make sacrifices so you can do what you do for UNDP and Rwanda best. They are the true heroes of our journey. I hope this annual break helps you rejuvenate and wish you and your families happy holidays, peace and prosperity.

Stephen Hawking once said: ‘I have led an extraordinary life on this planet, but it would be an empty universe indeed if it were not for the people I love, and who love me. Without them the wonder of it all would be lost on me’

I am undoubtably honoured to be amongst an amazing team of giants, with whom massive achievements are in reach and on the horizon.

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